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By Todd South
Chattanooga Times Free Press

CHATTOOGA COUNTY, Ga. - Authorities continued to warn residents near Forest Hays State Prison to watch for suspicious characters or behavior as two prisoners who escaped Monday morning remained at large.
Johnny Mack Brown, 53, and Michael A. Tweedel, 48, are thought still to be in the Spring Creek area near the prison, and on Wednesday more than 65 officers took part in the manhunt, according to a Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
Searchers on foot, in helicopters and with the use of dogs worked the area, including some Chattahoochee National Forest land and Taylor Ridge.
The prisoners escaped during a recreation period by getting through a fence, the Department of Corrections reported.
The preliminary investigation found that the prison's perimeter detection system did not function properly, and steps were taken to correct the problem to prevent similar incidents, according to a statement from Corrections.
"We will be here as long as necessary for us to apprehend the inmates, and all resources of the department will be utilized," said Rick Jacobs, director of special operations for the Department of Corrections.
A team using search dogs found several tracks that made authorities believe the two were still in the Spring Creek area.
Corrections Department spokeswoman Kristen Stancil said residents in northern Chattooga County, especially near the Spring Creek area, are urged to be cautious and report any unusual activity to local law enforcement.
Mr. Brown was serving a life sentence for his conviction in the armed robbery of an armored car guard at a Wal-Mart in Athens, Ga., on Dec. 22, 1997. He shot a guard three times in the chest and fired at others before fleeing with $183,000 in cash and checks in a hijacked car.
He was arrested soon after, but escaped from Clarke County Jail in September 1998 by scooting under a recreation area gate and climbing a wall. While on the run, he is alleged to have beaten an 84-year-old man with a barbell while stealing a car. He was caught later as he slept in another stolen car.
Mr. Brown is white, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighs 149 pounds and has a scar on his back and right thigh.
Mr. Tweedel is serving two 10-year sentences for armed robbery. He is white, 5 feet 6 inches and weighs 153 pounds.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
To Report:
To report suspicious persons, call the Chattooga County sheriff at (706) 857-3411, the Department of Corrections at (404) 656-9772 or local police.

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